Hello all. That is, if there’s anyone out there, and you haven’t all turned away from football entirely during the dark times that constitute any international break. Unusually, there is actually some Arsenal news to report, although not all of it is good.
Gooners will have been slightly alarmed to read the comments of Bacary Sagna yesterday. He told L’Equipe:
“I expected Robin’s departure, but Alex, that was a surprise. He’s 24 and had three years on his contract. When you see your two best players from last season leave, you ask yourself questions.
In the street, supporters sometimes come to see me. I can understand that they’re annoyed. I’m like them – I don’t understand everything.”
In some ways it’s reassuring to see that the players share our sentiments. However, it’s not ideal for the club to see those thoughts emerge in print, especially when it calls the decisions of the manager and the board in to question. It’s surprising these words have come from Sagna, though – a guy whose brilliance on the pitch is underlined by a stoic professionalism off it. If anything, that lends the words more gravitas. The departure of Song in particular will have hurt him as the pair were close off the pitch. However, I’m confident that once Bac is back and playing his concerns will fade. What I do hope, however, is that Arsenal don’t let the mistake of allowing Sagna’s contract to run too far down. We won’t find a better full-back.
One player who isn’t leaving is Andrey Arshavin. The Russian transfer window slammed shut last night, with the player still firmly on English soil. Both Dinamo Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg claimed to have reached agreement with Arsenal to take Arshavin on a free transfer, but in both instances he turned them down. His motivation, as far as I understand, is simple: he doesn’t want to leave London. When he joined Zenit on loan last year, his family remained behind. His kids are in school and he’s hopeful of getting them citizenship. I have to say, I’m a little bit glad he’s stayed. We saw glimpses in EURO 2012 of what he’s capable of, and he’s not a bad squad player to have around. I’d still choose Arshavin over Gervinho in most circumstances. The little Russian’s desire to stay for off-field reasons is clear; now he has to earn it on the pitch.
Tonight sees a host of international games kicking off, and Arsene will be anxiously watching on, hoping his players return intact. No-one will cause more concern than Abou Diaby, who is set to be involved for France in their game against Finland. Ahead of the game, Diaby has been talking to Le Parisien about his injury nightmare:
“I have revenge to take over the time I lost but I want to prove to myself that I can go higher.
All I wanted was to play again. I am born with a strong temper. I never give up. Maybe some people would have given up in my position but it was out of the question for me. It was my destiny, it was written [to come back].”
There’s some lovely translation in there, that makes Diaby sound like the revenging swordsman from The Princess Bridge.
“My name is Vassiriki Abou Diaby. You broke my ankle. Prepare to die.”
In seriousness though, it’s great to see him back, but I think we should sound a note of caution. The chances of him being able to play every game this season – even if he avoids injury – are slim. After that long out his body will need rest and recuperation, and hopefully the return of Jack Wilshere will allow Arsene to lighten the load on both injury-prone midfielders.
It’s been interesting to note that our start to the season has seen our title odds significantly shorten. I don’t think we’re candidates – I envisage a familiar fourth-placed finish. What can’t be denied is this: the bookies and online casinos such as www.bellerockentertainment.comobviously recognise the potential of Arsene Wenger’s new-look team.
Till next time…